Rye Patch, NV Mining Claim Higrading

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There were some recent discussions on another forum that must be shared with those that metal detect and prospect in Rye Patch, NV, please read the following summary and share with your Club's members and prospecting friends.



 From Land Matters:

The above map shows who the land manager is and which sections have claims. The simple fact that the BLM is the land manager does not mean the land is open to prospecting or claim.

I took the next step for you. I downloaded the Master Title Plat (MTP) for that Township with a click on the Land Status map. The MTP clearly shows that most of the the odd numbered Sections have restricted minerals - as in not yours. So no you can't just look at a simple map and say to yourself "hmmm no claims and it's BLM managed so I'm good to go".

The reason this is disturbing to me is myself and others have spent a lot of personal time and money providing free tools and tutorials so the average prospector/researcher can know how to do their legally required Due Diligence before they put boots on the ground. The tools and information are now freely available. Abdicating your personal responsibility to know the land status before you prospect because I provided a map of claimed areas was not the intent of my work. Please don't use Land Matters as an excuse for criminal behavior. Ignorance is never a defense against a prosecution for mineral trespass or mineral theft.

The talk here has been of "Claim Jumping". Claim Jumping is the act of trying to steal a mining claim with paperwork and lawyers. Taking minerals from a claim you don't have permission to prospect is highgrading - not Claim Jumping. Higrading in all cases involves the theft of minerals owned by someone else. Apples and Oranges.

I get correspondence from a lot of claim owners complaining of higraders. This is not new to mining. Several studies of commercial placer mines have shown that higrading is the biggest threat to a profitable operation. Anyone that has worked for the larger mining companies know they spend a lot of time, money and hours ensuring their minerals are not stolen. Higrading is on every mining companies radar.

I often hear excuses like "If the claim isn't marked it's OK to prospect" and the even more common "It's the claim owners responsibility to maintain signs". Neither is true, a few States require corners be checked on an annual basis but in point of fact most states have no legal requirement that claims must maintain markers. In several states corner markers are not required at all for some claims and monuments only have to be present at the time of location. Although as a practical matter the claim owner should do everything possible to put others on notice of the claim it is not the legal responsibility of the claim owner to use signs or markers to keep prospectors off their claim.

Prospectors, unlike the general public, have a positive legal duty to know the mineral status of the land before entering to prospect. The claim owner put other prospectors on legal notice when they recorded their "Notice of Mining Claim Location" into the public record. That public record suffices as proper notice under the law even if there are no stakes at the mining claim location. The public record is open for inspection to all people.  Potential prospectors need to examine the public record before entering the land to prospect. Land Matters provides links to all the County Recorders right on the Mining Claim maps to assist you in accomplishing that requirement.

Where Land Matters could do better is in providing the subsurface mineral status of the lands. As you've seen above not all BLM managed land is open to prospecting or location. It's not just a matter of mineral withdrawals but more subtle issues like those odd numbered sections in parts of Rye Patch that were reconvened and were never open to location. There was no withdrawal there because there were no mineral rights to withdraw. Often those minerals have already been sold or leased. If you are found extracting minerals from these restricted lands the BLM will bring charges of criminal mineral theft. It happens quite often and is frequently prosecuted for something as simple as taking a pickup load of gravel or sand.

Then there is the big mass of "dark matter" that is the subsurface estate still owned by the United States. There are nearly 7 million acres of mineral lands, often available for prospecting and location, underneath private lands in the west. Mining companies know this and have legally mined private lands for years. It requires a huge amount of research to determine just where these hidden mineral lands are found. The BLM is tasked with maintaining the records of this huge subsurface estate but between the BLM and mining companies the attitude seems to be "out of sight - out of mind". With very few exceptions these records are available but virtually unobtainable by the average researcher. Land Matters has plans to map these subsurface mineral rights but it's a huge project with little public interest beyond the landsmen and oil and gas industries. We need to see some real public interest before we will commit the resources needed to complete such a big project.

Now to the tough part. Most of these complaints I receive of higraders are about metal detecting. Rarely do I hear of processing equipment being used. At least 9 out of 10 reports of higrading I receive are about metal detectorists taking the best and biggest gold. Several of you on this forum have been named by claim owners. I'm not the enforcement guy and I will not be calling you out in public but I do know. For small miners trying to protect their owned minerals from higrading the pointy finger is mostly about metal detectorists.

I do know that few of you set out with the intent to detect someone's minerals. In most cases these violations are due to ignorance, intentional or otherwise. Assuming that signs are required or that unclaimed BLM managed land must be available for prospecting are just two examples. I have heard from many prospectors that the big mining companies (or someone who appears to be working for a mining company) allow prospectors to work their claims. I've never found a prospector who had a name, phone number or signed release but this seems to be one of those things "everyone knows". I can tell you that no mining company that has public shares could ever legally allow you to prospect their claims without a work contract. The simple fact that you haven't been caught or run off does not amount to permission.

Please learn to do your own due diligence. Please respect mineral owners rights, those minerals are their private property under the law. 

According to the Serial Register page Sections 17,19 and 21 is split estate. The surface is BLM managed and the minerals are privately owned. This doesn't make a lot of sense considering the ownership history there but it is how the government has the split estate classified.

To prospect or mine Sections 17, 19 and 21 you would need the written permission of the private mineral owner. You will need to visit the Humboldt County Assessor to find out who the current owner is.

One individual and one company have mined that area in the past. The last approved mining there was closed out in 1998. There may be a private mineral lease there now but there is no way to know until someone begins the mine permit process.

The one thing that is clear is that there can be no prospecting (including metal detecting) or mining on Sections 17, 19 and 21 without the mineral owners written permission.






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Hey Bill and Others,

   I seen this subject on another forum, but it's worth some talk.  I haven't personally been to Rye Patch in 15+ years.  It was a great place to hunt back in the day despite the long drive from Central Arizona.  During that time, 2000 time frame, the place was wide open and you wouldn't see a soul for weeks.  You could practically go anywhere you wanted. 

When the price of gold started to rise, many sections started to get claimed up, some were even pushing old ground, or re-pushing areas. 

The sections have always been checker boarded, Railroad vs. Private.  The Railroad property was always kind of considered open ground (being right or wrong). 

I have heard of a lot of highgrading on Private and Railroad property.  Many are doing huge training sessions, while others individuals are hitting the ground every weekend. 

Would be interesting to hear what others have to say. 

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Thank you Cobill for posting this.

One of the least known aspects of metal detecting is the most important;

Taking responsibility to understand boundary lines, claimed property and what your obligations are when working around claimed ground.

It's part of the responsibility we all have to each other to understand these laws and rules regarding mining claims.

Land Matters is a great place to begin.

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Flakemagnet, I have learned alot from Land Matters and my education is ongoing. The biggest thing from this discussion is to not believe what others tell you about a mining claim.  Like "we go wherever we want to" or the following:

On 10/27/2017 at 1:41 PM, cobill said:

"If the claim isn't marked it's OK to prospect"

According to the discussion on the other forum,  Sections 17, 19 and 21 are owned by Newmont Mining and not the Railroad. It takes alot of due diligence and research by using tools like LR2000, Land Matters, Master Title Plats and the Pershing County Assessor to determine who the current claim owner is.

That's why I bought a claim in Sec 18.


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